August Dev Recap

August was another solid month of development. Here’s a summary of what we were up to:

Colors in the minimap

The minimap was improved with colors denoting the friendliness of ships around you.  Blue ships are in your fleet. Ships you have selected show up white.  Harvesters are purple. As expected, it makes an enormous difference in how useful the map is.

There’s only two elements remaining for the minimap: replacing the purple placeholder triangle with final art, and creating a hover state showing information about the current destination.

Defending the fleet

But the bulk of the work in August centered around Harvesters and Rules of Engagement.

Heru finished the full Harvester cycle!

It works like this: the Harvesters pursue you no matter where you go.  They jump in a few moments after you and begin launching ever growing waves of fighters. The fighters will eventually overwhelm your fleet, so you have to decide when to jump.

If a fighter gets close enough to a warship they ram it, destroying themselves and damaging the warship.  If a fighter gets close enough to a refugee or industrial ship, however, they latch on to them.

When a ship is latched it is no longer under your control. The carrier then launches a harvester which flies out to the latched ship and carries it (and it’s hapless crew) back to the carrier.

If the harvester makes it back to the carrier it’s bad news: the crew disappears into the bowels of the carrier, never to be seen again. If the ship was in your fleet this will have a pretty negative impact on faction relations.

One last thing – the harvested ship is abandoned once the crew is taken, so if you have the right ships you might be able to use it again.

Harvester carriers begin to menace the fleet

We spent a good amount of time refining the fighter targeting algorithm and continued to balance speed and launch frequency. Harvesters now self destruct when fired upon.

Work on the Harvesters has continued into September (and likely beyond), so more on that in our next update.

We also added Rules of Engagement (ROE) for warships. Think of ROEs as standing orders – you can also issue direct attack orders on a specific target.

You choose one of three ROEs for each warship. The default is the defend state, where they return fire only if attacked. The weapons free rule tells your fleet warships to fire on anything hostile within range. And the hold fire state prevents a ship from firing even if it is attacked.

As testing is now consuming a larger and larger part of my time we added some improvements to our admin system to make it even easier to test.

We continued to improve the wave progression system. This system controls which faction ships appear as you move through the game.

And lastly most of what we call the hover and hail user interface was completed:

Hovering a ship in the various states of unselected/selected/targeted now gives mouse tooltips.

The right-click context menu of actions now dynamically resizes, and tells you which ship (including an icon of the ship type) would be performing the action.

The mouse pointer also changes depending on several factors, showing what you have selected: a certain type of ship, a formation, or multiple ships.

All of the interface elements in the game now display tips and information when hovered as well.

Visually we spent time adjusting ship icon sizes and brightness, but those are not complete yet.  There are still a couple of placeholder icons remaining.

A rare moment of peace for the fleet

Every day I get more and more excited about XO. I cannot wait to come in to the office in the morning and the day passes so quickly I can hardly believe it. We still have a great deal of work to do, but we continue to make progress, and the game keeps getting more fun to play. Thank you again backers for your words of support and your patience as we make XO the best game it can be.

Brian Jamison

Portland, Oregon